Over time, the stress and pressure of a demanding job can start to wear on employees. This can lead to fatigue, low morale, lack of enthusiasm and even depression—symptoms indicative of burnout. And it happens more than you might think: In the U.S., 28 percent of workers report feeling overworked and overwhelmed “very often.” It can also come on gradually, meaning employees may not notice burnout is happening until it’s too late and they want to quit.
That’s where you come in. If you’re aware of the signs of burnout, you can help stop it before it gets too bad—improving the lives of your employees and preventing the loss of talented team members.
What to Look For
Employee burnout can manifest itself in a variety of ways. Employees can determine if they are suffering from burnout by thinking about questions like: “Do I feel like I have no control over my work?” You can also help spot the signs by keeping an eye out for the following in your employees:
- Passive disposition toward work
- Diminished enthusiasm toward work
- Increased irritability
- Low morale
- Increased apathy
- Decreased productivity
What to Do About It
Ideally, the best approach to treating burnout is preventing it from ever starting. You can do this by actively listening to employees’ concerns, enabling employees to make self-care a priority and making sure that quality work receives positive feedback. If employees are already showing signs of burnout, these strategies can help reverse it:
- Be a good listener. Make yourself and other managers accessible and approachable so employees feel comfortable expressing their concerns. If it’s a larger office and people aren’t quite so comfortable sharing, set up an office survey so you can get a pulse on what their real feelings are. Take employees’ feedback seriously—seeing that their issues are acknowledged and that steps are taken afterwards to improve the situation will go a long way.
- Provide outlets for fun and wellness. Breaking up strenuous work days with healthy, creative activities can help alleviate the psychological effects of burnout. Consider implementing a workplace fitness program or engaging in non-work-related team activities. These can be as simple as taking a lunchtime walk together or participating in 15-minute creative challenges.
- Establish professional boundaries. Whenever possible, encourage employees to actually sign off at night and on weekends so they can achieve better work-life balance. Even being a little more flexible with work hours or letting some employees work from home every now and then can keep employees feeling positive and motivated.
- Acknowledge employees’ successes. Burnout often results from employees feeling underappreciated by higher-ups. Show employees that their work is valued by recognizing their efforts and creating opportunities for advancement. Whether through a shout-out email for a job well done or a raise and promotion, this instills a sense of purpose and growth in the work employees do.
For more resources to help keep employees engaged and refreshed, check out these blogs:
- Videos Address Mental Health in the Workplace
- Creating a Successful Employee Volunteer Program
- A Good Idea: Wellness Programs That Help Employees Stress Less
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